Tag Archives: Absorbents

Choosing the right Absorbent solution.

A quick browse through our web site will show hundreds of solutions for tackling spills. The challenge is to ensure the spill control solutions you choose are suitable for the spill risks identified for your specific spill risks.

Chemical Absorbent

General purpose absorbent granules are a popular choice but you can further improve the protection by choosing granules designed for specific types of spills and applications. The New Safety Tread granules are highly effective on chemical spills whereas the XR99 Highway granules present a low skid risk when deployed on road surfaces and comply with European Road Safety Regulations. Similarly the Spill Fix loose granules are designed to combat all types of hydrocarbon spills and ounce for ounce have 50% more absorbent capability than standard clay granules.
The Oil and Chemical only absorbent ranges are not just different colour options of the General Purpose products although their distinctive colours do make them easier to identify in an emergency. For oil storage facilities, water pollution control, boatyards and transport depots Oil only absorbents not only attract and absorb oils (oleophilic) but unlike general purpose absorbents have the added advantage of being water repellent (hydrophobic) so they only absorb the oil making them more efficient and making disposal easier. Our specialised Chemical Absorbents for aggressive acids, alkalis and solvents employ chemically inert materials that won’t break down in use and, like the oil only products, are also hydrophobic.

It should be said that for small spill risks for example around industrial machinery, workshops and process areas, potentially involving a variety of hazardous substances the general purpose range will suffice as they will absorb water, lighter grade hydrocarbons and chemicals. It is when the potential risk to property and employees from spills or the potential for environmental damage escalates that you should seriously consider specialist absorbents in your spill management thinking.

Hopefully being aware of the options will help you determine the best choice for your application.

Mineral Oil Spill blamed for bird contamination

Hundreds of seabirds washed up in an oil spill on the south coast from Sussex to Cornwall on Thursday 31st January were contaminated with a waxy substance that is now believed to be a mixture of refined mineral oils, most probably jettisoned from a ship passing through the Western approaches to the English Channel.
A major rescue operation has been launched by the RSPCA and other local charities to capture and clean the affected birds. Inevitably it is highly likely that many more birds have perished out to sea than have been rescued and even then it has proved such a major task to remove the contamination that not all the birds rescued will survive.


Preventing environmental pollution both on land and sea is now given top priority and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have sent a counter pollution surveillance aircraft to investigate the sea areas between Dover and the Isles of Scilly looking for the source. Shipping schedules and cargo records are also being scoured to try and pinpoint the culprit.
The fact that the captain of the vessel did not report the spill suggests it was not accidental and more likely to do with saving money. Let’s hope the authorities can track the ship down and prosecute the offender at least as a deterrent to others. Sadly as far as the Guillemots are concerned the damage is already done and worse still right at the start of the breeding season.
The incident, and the expensive resources put behind locating the source should act as a reminder to all those involved in the transport, storage and use of oils, fuels and other hazardous materials. It is a legal obligation to ensure appropriate spill control and containment measures such as absorbent products, bunds and spill kits are in place should a spill occur.

The Environment Agency is ever more vigilant and can force the perpetrator to foot the bill for environmental pollution caused by careless or irresponsible actions.

Conducting a spill risk assessment to help formulate a coherent spill control management system is the only sensible approach and will protect the viability of the business as well as the environment.

How to Remove Oil Spills and Stains.

With the first snows of winter forecast for this week I decided to stock up my log store. I had some large boughs on the drying rack ready for cutting. Trying to burn fresh cut “green” wood on an open fire is hopeless so I always have logs seasoning for at least 3 months prior to winters arrival.

The chain saw needed a quick sharpen and I topped up the saws chain oil container. Believe me the saw cuts far better and stays sharp longer if chain oil is used. I don’t quite know how but I clearly forgot to replace the oil cap. The first I knew of it was when my wife pointed out the sinuous trail of oil snaking across the paved drive between the garage and the wood store. It was probably less than 100ml in total but what an unsightly mess it looked.

Spill Aid
Having written extensively on oil spills in the past I knew that the quicker the stain gets attention the better the outcome. There are loads of oil stain removal products on the market but I doubt anyone would be lucky enough to have a bottle on the shelf for such an event. I certainly did not.

So what to do. The first step is to remove as much of the fresh wet oil as possible. Use an absorbent wipe or absorbent pad preferably commercial grade. I have a roll of the Eez Off Heavy duty wipes that I find the best all-rounder for the workshop and garage. Lay it over the oil and dab rather than scrub as this just spreads the stain. The next step is to sprinkle over absorbent granules to draw out the oil. You will be surprised how many common household products can be applied.

Cat litter is often used (if you have a cat as we do) but I find it too coarse and suggest putting some in a plastic bag and crushing it with a rolling pin to a finer consistency before applying to maximise the surface contact area. You will need to leave it for a day or two and unfortunately if it rains the resultant slush makes an even bigger mess than the oil and on a windy day it will just blow away. I have also heard of people using dry cement, baking soda, talcum powder, oven cleaner and even salt but have never tried them myself.

Once the oil is dry you can also use a laundry powder detergent. Sprinkle the detergent onto the stain, add a small amount of water to make paste, scrub it into the stain using a stiff brush and leave it overnight. Wipe off the excess and hose down. I have also heard that pouring Cola on the stain is effective but it seems unlikely unless you know different.

Lastly check the type of oil being used. Increasingly modern oils including Chain oils are biodegradable so if you are still left will a faint stain over time the elements will work on the oil until it disappears naturally, although think months rather than days.

Spill control can protect your business

Accidental spills of oils, chemicals and other toxic pollutants have the potential to severely damage your business operation. If you are found to be negligent not only will the Environment Agency bill you for the clean-up costs you can also be landed with a heavy fine and the adverse publicity may damage your reputation.

So here is a 10 point plan to minimise the risk to your business the environment and your workforce.

Drain Cover

1. First make sure any potentially harmful substances are correctly labelled with an appropriate COSHH hazardous substance warning sign.

2. Put in place stocks of spill control materials and equipment appropriate to the spill hazards identified

3. Make sure all staff know the location of any spill control materials and equipment and how to use them.

4. Provide appropriate PPE equipment such as protective suits, fume masks, gloves and footwear so designated staff can tackle spills safely.

5. Protect environmentally sensitive areas by deploying drain mats and locating hazardous storage well away from drains and watercourses.

6. Preferably construct a bund around storage tanks and to divert spillages away from watercourses. A pile of earth or sand can be used to form a temporary bund in the event of a spill.

7. If a spill does reach a watercourse, deploy absorbent socks or booms to prevent spread.

8. If possible clean up the spill using appropriate absorbent granules, absorbent pillows and absorbent socks.

9. The materials used in the clean-up are also a hazard so dispose of correctly by removal to an authorised waste disposal facility.

10. If a major spill occurs, particularly of toxic or flammable liquids stop all work, inform the emergency services and/or the Environment Agency and move staff to a safe area until the spill is contained

Following these guidelines will ensure that if an accident occurs you can demonstrate your business has taken a responsible approach to spill management and control.

5 Worst Spills of all time

I am sure it’s happened to most of us. There you are sat at the computer when you absent mindedly reach out for the half cup of coffee without taking your eyes off the screen and over the cup goes. It always amazes me how disruptive such a few milliliters of liquid can be.

Oil Spill on Fire
Minor spills like these involving water, oil and chemicals happen in their tens of thousands every day and provided you have absorbent wipes or suitable spill control products to hand damage limitation is usually fast and effective. Some spills both natural and accidental are on a far larger scale and compared with a spilt cup of coffee are mind boggling in their scale. Here is a rundown of my top five spills in recorded times. You may have others you feel deserve a place in the countdown.

1. Worst deliberate Oil Spill
In January 1991, Iraqi forces released an estimated 240 million gallons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf in an attempt to disrupt an expected amphibious landing by the U.S. Marines. The resulting oil slick ravaged the Gulf’s marine ecosystem, killed thousands of seabirds and endangering other wildlife. To date, it remains the worst disaster of its kind.
2. Worst accidental chemical spill
The worst industrial chemical spill occurred suddenly in the early morning of December 3, 1984, at Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal, India a chemical leak released a cloud of lethal methyl isocyanate into the air over the sleeping city. Some two thousand people died immediately and at least another eight thousand died later with many thousands still seriously affected to this day.
The term accidental is relative as human error and carelessness played a part in the disaster.

3. Worst Accidental Oil Spill
The much publicised Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico makes my top five not least because in addition to the devastation caused to the marine environment and coastal communities 11 men lost their lives and 17 more were injured. The oil spill estimated at over 200 million gallons eclipses the previous record held by the oil well Ixtoc 1 which also exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on June 3, 1979, spewing 140 million gallons of oil into the open sea.
4. Worst natural land spill
A volcanic fissure connected to the Laki volcano in Iceland began erupting in June 1783 and continued for 8 months. It produced the largest lava flow in historic times when a fissure 16 miles long sent a flow of fast-moving lava more than 40 miles. Over 3 cubic miles of lava poured out covering an area of 220square miles. More devasting still were the clouds of poisonous hydrofluoric acid and sulphur dioxide released that killed half of Iceland’s livestock population causing a famine that killed a quarter of the island’s human population. The atmospheric pollution caused crop failures across Europe is attributed to contributing to the deaths of over six million people globally.
5. Worst natural atmospheric spill
The biggest volcanic eruption in recorded human history occurred when Mount Tambora on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa erupted in 1815. The sound of the initial eruption was heard over 1000 miles away and the volume of the ejected gas and debris cloud was put at 400 million tons or 38 cubic miles. Under the cloud of gas the volcano created, the earth cooled and 1816 became known as “The Year Without Summer” because of the low temperatures, which killed crops and led to mass starvation.